Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Book Review: Cupcakes and Casualties

Cupcakes and Casualties (Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Book 11)
by Agatha Frost

Published: March/2018 by PinkTree Publishing Ltd
Format: ebook
The residents of Peridale don't like change, so when the famous actress, Candy Bennett, rolls into the village to demolish a historic cottage, things don't go as smoothly as she would have hoped. With the 'Peridale Preservation Society' protesting her plans to build a modern home on the land, things quickly turn sour. Days into the project, Candy's lead builder, Shane, is murdered and the task to solve the mystery once again falls into Julia's lap.

Did one of the protestors kill the builder to make a statement, or was he murdered by someone from within his own team? With the preservation society, the actress, the architect, and the builders all keeping secrets, Julia soon has her hands full gathering evidence, but it's a familiar-looking new arrival in the village that commands her attention. Julia's life is torn apart when she learns of the stranger's true identity, but will she be able to focus on the challenging case before another body turns up? The only certainty is that Julia's life will never be the same again.
A fun, enjoyable read that kept me guessing right up to the final reveal.

This was my first Peridale Cafe book, but that didn’t matter as it was explained who all the characters were and their relationships to each other.

Loved the characters and can’t wait to visit Peridale again.

I enjoyed spending time with Julia and the residents of  Peridale and give this book 5 stars.

Thank you Ms Frost for providing an Advance Review Copy. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Book Review: No One Wants To Be Miss Havisham

No One Wants To Be Miss Havisham
by Brigid Coady

Published: May 2015 by Harper Impulse
Format: ebook
ISBN: 9780008119416
What the Dickens is going on?

Edie Dickens is a shark of a divorce lawyer. She doesn’t believe in love and she scoffs at happily ever afters, however she’s agreed to be maid of honour for her oldest friend, Mel in two weeks and she still has the hen night to endure. But she has even more to endure when she’s visited by Jessica Marley’s ghost and finds out she must change her ways or end up being damned to an eternity watching other people’s happiness. Edie is visited by the Ghosts of Weddings Past, Present and Future, every Friday night until the day of the wedding. Can she learn from her mistakes in time? And did the ghosts send the hunky new lawyer, Jack Twist, to distract her?
This book is a little special as it recently won the Romantic Novelists' Association's Joan Hessayon Award, and as soon as I started reading it I could see why. It is a refreshing take on a classic story with a heroine you can't help but love despite her huge flaws.

Ms Coady writes with humour and warmth and her characters are a joy to spend time with. Don't get me wrong, at first you want to slap Edie for the way she behaves, but once you get a few glimpses of why she is like she is you are soon rooting for her.

I was hooked by this novel and found myself making excuses not to do the chores so I could read just one more chapter, then another ...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish and give it 5 stars. Well done Brigid.

Thank you Netgalley and Harper Impulse for giving me the opportunity to read this book.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Book Review: The Torn Up Marriage

The Torn Up Marriage
by Caroline Roberts

Published: March 2015 by Harper Impulse
Formats: ebook & paperback
Why do we hurt the ones we love, and can there ever be a way back?

“The Torn Up Marriage” is about betrayal, complacency, love and loss, and that key instinct to protect your family. But what happens when you tear that family apart? Kate and Michael are about to find out as they cope with the crushing fallout of his affair, whilst trying to protect their two young children. This powerful and poignant novel captures the explosiveness of everyday life and what it is to be human; to make mistakes.

Set in the historic town of Alnwick, Northumberland, with its stunning backdrop of castles, moorland hills and coastline, this relationship story of love and family takes you in a rollercoaster ride of emotions along with Kate and Michael.

Michael’s mother’s battle with breast cancer shatters them all, yet shows them how precious life, love and family is. Can they find a way back and fight for their battered yet enduring love?
So, what would you do if it happened to you? Could you betray? Could you forgive?
I enjoyed Ms Robert's writing style and soon became invested in all the characters. The story is full of emotion as the characters wonder how they got to where they are in their lives.

Kate becomes more and more dependent on alcohol and turns away from her friends after the shock of Michael leaving her. Gradually she starts to pull herself together and accepts that her marriage is over. I liked Kate. She had always appeared tough and in control to Michael, but he sees a different, vulnerable side to her

It is obvious that Kate and Michael still love each other but I wasn't sure, right up until the end, whether Kate would forgive him enough to give them another chance, and I won't spoil things by telling you whether she does.

I loved the raw emotion of this story and it kept me reading until late into the night. I give the Torn Up Marriage 5 stars out of 5.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Book Review: From Italy With Love

From Italy With Love
by Jules Wake

Published: May 2015 by Harper Impulse
Format: ebook
'To my niece I leave the Ferrari GT250… On the proviso that she takes it across Europe to Maranello within the next three weeks. Only on successful completion of the journey to a prescribed route, will the car be hers…’

Home-loving Laurie thinks she’s happy – she has a safe, reliable boyfriend and working in her local library is what she thought she always wanted. That is until she inherits a vintage Ferrari from her eccentric Uncle Miles and the conditions of the inheritance are far from simple. To keep the car Laurie will have to drive across Europe with the gorgeous but unreliable Cameron Matthews as her guide… and Cam’s motives for helping are not all that altruistic.

Cam isn’t particularly thrilled about escorting his late pal Miles’ dull mouse of a niece on this wild goose chase but all he has to do is get Laurie safely to Italy and he’s sure the Ferrari is his.

But Uncle Miles had a few tricks up his sleeve and the route he’s planned takes Cam and Laurie on a road trip they’ll never forget. From sampling the delights of the Loire Valley to the breathtaking beauty of Lake Garda, this is one journey that has more twists and turns than either of them could ever have imagined…
This book hooked me from the first chapter and I settled down in my favourite chair knowing I was in for an enjoyable read. By the end of the story I felt as though I had been on a whistle-stop drive through France and Italy and was completely in love with the Ferrari.

Cam has to be one of my favourite heroes. He is super good-looking, sexy and has a wicked sense of humour, unlike Robert, Laurie's serious boyfriend. I loved seeing Laurie change as the journey progressed and the way she tried things she would never have done before taking on Uncle Miles' challenge.

Miss Wake's forte is her characterisation and I couldn't stop wondering about Laurie and Cam long after I had finished the book.

If you want a fun, holiday read to make you smile, I heartily recommend this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed Laurie and Cam's story and give this book 5 out of 5.

Thank you Netgalley and Harper Impulse for giving me the opportunity to read it.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Book Review: Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon
by J.R. Burnett

Published: 2014 by J.R. Burnett
Format: ebook
ISBN-13: 9781310206313
As head of the midwest division of Occult Animal Control, Alex Ford doesn't know the meaning of a boring day at work. From exposing dragon fighting rings to trapping pesky unicorns...there's never a dull moment.

As a snow storm rolls into Tulsa, Alex discovers the mangled remains of a Shifter--the likes of which hasn't been seen in the city for nearly two years. Racing against the full moon, Alex must try to save the wolves from themselves. Can he put aside all of his prejudices to protect those he has hated and can his fourlegged partner do the same?

Wolf Moon is a novelette of approximately 11,580 words and is part of the Furred, Feathered, and Fanged series.
I normally read romance, but thought that I would give something a little different a try.

I really enjoyed Wolf Moon and liked the concept of animal control for paranormal creatures. Loved the engaging characters and was drawn into the story by the author's 'voice'. I felt like I was there along with Alex and his companions and could feel the tension building as the story progressed.

Even though this is a novelette it didn't feel like the story was rushed or cut short. Can't wait for the next story in the Furred, Feathered and Fanged series to find out what happens next to Alex and his team.

If you want a well written, quick read and are into paranormal or urban fantasy, then I can recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Five more things I learned at the RNA Conference: self-publishing

On the Saturday afternoon of the conference, Ian Skillicorn gave an excellent talk on epublishing. This was one of the most useful sessions of the weekend and I picked up lots of tips.

  • Photographic covers are more popular for contemporary romance.
  • Use keywords in the book's subtitle.
  • This will help your book get found on Amazon. You should also put your metadata into your Word file (click on file > properties) before it's converted.
  • Have a pricing strategy.
  • Make a list of similar books to yours, where they are in the sales rank and check their prices - what happens to their rank when the price changes.
  • If using Microsoft Word, format your ebook using Word's styles function.
  • Use a 'Heading' style for chapter headers - this makes it easier when you come to compose your table of contents.
  • Your marketing strategy needs to be in place before publication, but don't put links up to your book until it is available.
Thank you to Ian Skillicorn of Corazon Books for his talk on publishing and marketing ebooks.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Five things I learned at the RNA Conference: self-publishing

Last weekend, along with 250 fellow writers, I attended the Romantic Novelists' Association's annual conference. It was a brilliant weekend held at Harper Adams University, near Telford. The food was plentiful and the drinks even more so, but believe it or not as well as all the partying and socialising I did actually learn something (no sniggering at the back).

Over the next few blog posts I'll be looking back at my sketchy notes and picking out some of the things I found particularly useful.

The first lecture I attended was by Talli Roland and Nick Spalding about their experiences with self-publishing.

Photo courtesy of Harper Adams University
  • Publish your novel first, THEN have your marketing push. Have your marketing plan in place but don't start promoting your book until readers can click on a link to buy it.
  • Make sure you have the license to your book's cover image and fonts.
  • I knew about the image, but had wrongly assumed it was okay to use free fonts. Check the license of each font you want to use.
  • Write an exciting blurb.
  • So many of the books I see on Amazon, both traditionally published and self-pubbed have no description. How can a reader make a decision to buy it if they don't know what it's about?
  • Design an eye-catching cover that works as a thumbnail and in black and white.
  • Get your book professionally edited!
Thank you Talli Roland and Nick Spalding for the talk on their reasons behind choosing independent publishing.

On Friday I'll be looking at what I learned from Ian Skillicorn's talk on marketing and self-publishing your ebook.

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